Groups criticize lack of B.C. government’s ambition in climate change plans

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FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. — The Energy Forum, a coalition of industry associations, power producers and environmental organizations is calling on the provincial government to put forth an ambitious climate leadership plan to transition B.C. away from fossil fuels.

It’s supportive of the recommendations released last year by the Climate Leadership Team — made up of experts, government representatives and First Nations, but is also concerned about what it views as the stall in B.C.’s climate policy development since 2012.

The 17-member forum has released a letter sent to Premier Clark during the current consultation period for such a plan, not due to be finalized until this spring. Associate Director Matt Horne of the Pembina Institute says their major concern is the province will miss its 2020 greenhouse gas emission targets.

He says this week’s budget continued the four-year climate action stall, noting while the costs of climate change were highlighted, any hint of the government’s new climate change response plan was largely absent.

The Climate Leadership Team recommendations included an increase in the carbon tax, new policies to improve the energy efficiencies of buildings, and putting more electric vehicles on the road.

Thus, the Wilderness Committee National Policy Director Gwen Barlee says, “I was hoping for a budget that would really show climate and environmental leadership, but instead we have a government trying to move ahead with highway expansion, LNG, and the $8.8-billion Site C ‘vanity’ project.”

She lists as budget low-lights: $3.4 billion in new public and private sector monies slated for highway expansion and transportation initiatives, the carbon tax mired at $30/tonne, and, BC Hydro’s debt ballooning to $19.5 billion in the next fiscal year due to the construction of the highly controversial Site C dam.

She concludes by arguing again, “Ratepayers can expect to see a massive increase in their electricity bills if this poorly thought out multi-billion project goes ahead.”